Appalling driving (Christine McLean)

Concerns have been raised relating to the growing number of incoming workforce in the Brae area so this is maybe a good opportunity to highlight an alarming increase in traffic as an associated consequence of the issue.

I’m witnessing this increase along with a deterioration in driving standards from the perspective of a commuting cyclist. The behaviour of many road users is appalling especially at peak times.

Journeys to and from work at Sella Ness can be very intimidating and I find myself not just an observer of this fast and aggressive trend but often a victim forced to take evasive action to avoid close calls … Yes there are many of these.

I reckon I have at least one “near death experience” per week. Probably the most common scenario is oncoming overtaking traffic where my only option is to make a split second manoeuvre to leave the road.

I’m left feeling shaken and very vulnerable and then angry. It’s not as if I’m not visible; I use lights night and day and wear reflective clothing. Many drivers just don’t “Think Bike”.

“Report it,” folk say. But I’m dubious what that will achieve. After all it happens so quickly that self-preservation is priority not taking numbers and other details.

A while ago I contacted my employer to inquire why they didn’t support the government bike to work scheme. The immediate retort was that the roads around Lerwick are too dangerous for that.

Well it’s only going to get worse especially if attitudes like that are prevalent in our community. So maybe it’s about time something was done by those who can.

Christine McLean





Add Your Comment
  • Katrina McLachlan

    • June 4th, 2013 12:50

    I 100% agree with this lady. I am from Exnaboe and witness on a daily basis trucks, cars, buses, moterbikes. Going well over the speed limit. Only on Thursday did another serious road traffic accident occour. This being nearly the 10 accident at that spot in my 38 years..

    I am so angry at the agencies in Shetland for turning their backs on this issue that, I am willing to become a Special Constable, so I can clock all the drivers.

    I am a bit hardcore on my thoughts on this issue, but I feel when you brake the law by speeding or drink driving its Murder!.

    Sorry for my spelling!.

    Katrina McLachlan
    Da Makins
    ZE3 9JS

  • ivan coghill

    • June 4th, 2013 15:46

    Could you wear a head-mounted camera? Get the evidence and get them off the road.

  • Sandy McDonald

    • June 4th, 2013 16:07

    A lot of folk actually don’t know what to do when they come upon a cyclist. I’ve often thought you would be better cycling in the middle of the lane so cars won’t try to squeeze past as you see them do all the time. Though that might leave you vulnerable to turbulence from reciprocal traffic?

  • Leslie Lowes

    • June 4th, 2013 20:36

    I was almost assassinated twice today on my way into town from Walls, once by a grey-haired granny who ignored the passing place on the single track road near the Brig o’ Waas and never even slowed, while I braked fiercely and pulled my car off the road to avoid her.

    Second near miss, just twenty minutes later, was at the Tingwall Crossroads just after the Kingdom Hall. I pulled out turning right towards the town, as the leading vehicle in the convoy travelling from Lerwick indicated left to turn into the road I was on. As I pulled across in front of him towards the other side of the main road, a BMW was gaily overtaking the convoy behind the left-turner by driving on the hatched areas along the centre of the main road where no-one is supposed to drive!

    Fortunately, he was quick on his brakes and managed to slow enough to avoid hitting me, but it was a close thing.

    This is an extremely dangerous junction. Approaching from the west side, trying to look north towards Brae, there is some rising ground in the ajoining field which blocks the view of traffic which could be approaching from the North at 60 mph. I watched a Discovery (which has a nice high viewpoint) pull out of that junction towards Lerwick, where a saloon car also travelling towards Lerwick had to brake violently and completely left the road to avoid hitting the neepy-head driving the Discovery. The lady driving the saloon looked as white as sheet after her near-miss encounter with neepy, but managed to drive off again afterwards to continue her journey.

  • Julia Odie

    • June 4th, 2013 21:39

    Can I just point out that having yellow flashing lights on the top of your vehicle as you drive along the road does not give you priority over other traffic – they should serve as a warning to other road users in times of need: working at the side of the road, accompanying slow or abnormal lads, etc not be used all the time.

  • Shona Laurenson

    • June 4th, 2013 21:53

    I agree with Leslie that the junction at Tingwal is very dangerous. I always try to give cyclists a whole lane when I pass them, but I have witnessed plenty of times drivers being careless especially on the kames, trucks weaving on and off the road and not giving cyclists enough room and almost pulling them off their bike or forcing the. In the ditch, Seen it too many times to keep count.

    I think we really need some cycle paths here, they are great and keep cyclists safer from dangerous drivers, and it might encourage more people to cycle further that have previously had bad experience on the road or are nervous to try it for fear of being killed.

  • Michael Rattray

    • June 4th, 2013 22:42

    I have driven all over Scotland, North of England and abroad and Shetland is by far the worst place to drive.

    When I moved up to Shetland in 2001 I was alarmed by the standard of driving here. A lot of people her simply don’t know how to drive. Drivers pulling out of junctions in front of you, failing to use indicators and not knowing what to do at roundabouts. I don’t know if that’s a lack of understanding or experience, or simply they don’t give a damn about other road users.

    I have in the past complained to the Police about near accidents and dangerous driving, but they’re simply not interested. At one time I said to them it’s only a matter of time before I will be involved in an accident.

    In 2006 I was involved in an accident when a van pulled out of a junction a ran into the side of me and forced me to the other side of the road. Thankfully there wasn’t a vehicle coming in the opposite direction. I wasn’t seriously injured but my car was a right off.

    I am far more vigilant driving here now and it’s an absolute pleasure to go down south and drive.

    I don’t know how you address this, but hope the new generation of drivers will improve driving standards here in the future.

  • Charlotte Black

    • June 4th, 2013 23:31

    I am in complete agreement with Christine. There is a complete disregard throughout Shetland to fellow road users who “dunna pay der road tax” (an often quoted phrase), be it runners, cyclists, horseriders or pedestrians. I run, walk or cycle on the roads daily and rarely a day passes where I don’t witness driver behaviour which leaves me speechless. I have had to jump into the ditch on numerous occasions, easier to do when on your feet rather than on a bike. I know of two people (a runner and a cyclist) who have reported near misses caused by drivers to the police in the last few months, and I witnessed a very near miss of a cyclist at Shurton Brae which left my legs wobbly, I hate to think how the cyclist felt.

    I walk or cycle with my children as often as possible and it is not for the faint hearted. Quite frankly it is terrifying when you are at the side of the road with small children and cars are hurtling past you at 60+ mph. You would think anyone in a car would slow when they see children at the side of the road, unfortunately this is not the case. The council proposal to stop school bus services in the country and encourage kids to walk to school is ridiculous given the state of driving on our roads.

    I am not for a speeding campaign with the police catching speeding drivers on empty roads for the hell of it. But it is time to promote safe considerate driving in Shetland. What shocks and saddens me is the complete disregard and lack of common sense some drivers show towards other road users. Maybe we can start with reminding folk of a few rules from the Highways code:

    Be considerate. Be careful of and considerate towards all types of road users, especially those requiring extra care (see Rule 204).

    The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is particularly important to be aware of children, older and disabled people, and learner and inexperienced drivers and riders.

    Take extra care on country roads and reduce your speed at approaches to bends, which can be sharper than they appear, and at junctions and turnings, which may be partially hidden. Be prepared for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, slow-moving farm vehicles or mud on the road surface. Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear. You should also reduce your speed where country roads enter villages.

  • Colin Hunter

    • June 5th, 2013 1:06

    If ever there was a junction in Shetland that needs a roundabout, this is the one! Unfortunately, the standard of driving here is so utterly DIRE that some road users seem oblivious to the protocol at roundabouts and would probably make it even more dangerous than it already is!

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 5th, 2013 9:24

    I agree on the cycle lanes, we should’ve had them rather than the leisure centres. The cyclists could share them with walkers, dog walkers and prams. I used to walk with a twin pram and was almost swept off the road by vans and trucks going too fast past me (it was a 60 road having left a 40 mph zone – but where else can you walk?) and leaving the plastic pram wobbling in their wake.

    I also agree about the Wast junction at Tingwall. I know my husband had a near miss there and got a real shock when he realised there is a blind spot. That road is too fast. We cant get across from Veensgarth to the school or the hall and playpark at Strom (at the crossroads bit, further up) and really need an underpass (like the sheep have) or a bridge so that the community is not cut in two. They shouldnt have left it like that.

    And while I am having a moan, please note that the Veensgarth road is not a short cut from the West to Lerwick. Does any one with a pram, a cycle or a dog want to join me in a reclaim the road march at 5pm some night? We have traffic calming at the crossroads and a 30mph but still people think it is fine to race through to beat lorries or other slow stuff going wast. Yes, it is the old main road and shorter than going all the way round, but things change. There are lots more houses on the 60 mph bit at the airport side with bairns playing at the side of the road than there would have been if it was still the main road. Thankyou.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 5th, 2013 14:35

    Sorry correction, not strom – Strand on comment above

    And another thing – only in Shetland have I seen people going as fast as possible up to a give way sign to come out in front of others as if it was a motorway exit (you give way at give ways and merge on to a motorway?), and only here have I seen people stop in the middle of the road to let other cars cross their path to go into a junction – yes it is courtesy if there is a bit of a jam and especially if someone is turning an artic, but does every car have to do this every day at the Gremista junction when there is only one thing coming oot ower?

  • christine grooby

    • June 5th, 2013 17:40

    I’ve been reading all of these comments and now am taking pause for my upcoming July trip to Shetland….I live in Silicon Valley, CA and am used to speeders, cut-offs, and carelessness driving, but now am worried when I visit Shetland to cycle and hike that we will not be safe?!? Vigilance will be with us!

  • Sandy McDonald

    • June 5th, 2013 21:37

    Please don’t be put off Christine! I know it sounds from these comments that there are the bodies of cyclists and hikers littering the ditches of Shetland but I can assure you there are not! Shetland is well worth the visit, you should have nice weather in July and the light evenings are amazing, particularly around 2300 when the colours can be beautiful.

  • christine grooby

    • June 6th, 2013 1:42

    Thank you Sandy…We most certainly look forward to the night lights, and someday the northern lights…And we will be very careful drivers, hikers, and cyclers whilst there early July.


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